This month’s mysterious coincidence – men

I’ve been thinking about men and, as often happens, so has The Universe. For instance, I’ve been trying this thing at the library recently where I shut my eyes and pick a book, any book…anyway one of these books happened to be The End of Men, by Christina Sweeney-Baird. Then I was asked to review Men of Earth by Ingrid Banwell, my daughter came home with Testosterone by Carole Hooven, and an old (literally) friend gave me a sheaf of articles on why men rule the world. For the record, his favourite book is The Inevitability of Patriarchy by Steven Goldberg. Spooky.

Which reminds me, did you know that KPMG was asked, by a well known feminist collective, to work out the cost of male crimes against women and provide an estimate of just reparations. Since they’d done similar work for the victims of climate change, child abuse, institutionalisation and slavery, they were able to apply the same well-tested methodology to arrive at a figure of several billion trillion, to be distributed to every female on the planet. Individual shares will be determined by nation, cross-sectional eligibility criteria, and whether the woman in question has a forgiving nature.

Obviously these estimates didn’t take into account (they never do) all the things the Romans (ie, men) have done for us. Woodchopping. Sex. Witty conversation. Breakfasts in bed. The road system. Etc.

I have a theory. Men who say they like women like us because we listen to them (try getting a man to sit there going ‘wow’ and ‘really, that’s interesting!’ and ‘tell me more about your life/depression/marriage issues’). Women who say they like men (that’d be me, at times) like them because (while they’re considering our cleavage) they’ll put up with our inane chatter (try getting a woman to meet you for coffee after you’ve revealed your obsession with Schopenhauer/past lives/handbags).

I have another theory, which is that I shouldn’t really theorise. You watch a man with a dog; he’ll try to order it around, no matter what innocuous thing it’s doing. Buster, come here! Stay there! No! Stop! The same, however, is true of a woman with horses or, on occasion, kids. Makes us feel bigger, I guess. Or take tools. A man will invent a machine which is – if at all possible – too heavy, complicated or greasy for a woman to operate. Hopefully all three. When it needs fixing, he will say things like ‘Yeah ya need a throgspottle for that, love…don’t spose you got a fragshinning set handy?’ If you go out and buy a throgspottle, it always turns out to be the wrong size or if not, require a Hungarian weight lifter to operate. A woman will invent a tool – like knitting needles, or the loom – that demand an almost superhuman resistance to boredom and frustration, as in ‘Knit one, pearl one, cast…oh fuck, not again!’ If a man tries to use it she’ll say things like ‘Oh not like that – you’ll break it!’ I know men who are lovely right down to the last bite, and women I’d choke on.

Still, men. When the country’s a mess, we blame the government. Men are (mostly, still) the government. It’s only fair they get blamed, right? That said, Australia’s public service is – so a man of my acquaintance used to claim – run by a cabal of lesbians who scream at one another. Also, Mrs Thatcher. Gina Rinehart. Marjorie Taylor-Green. Say no more.

Anyway, I’ve already worked out what I’m going to spend my share of the reparations on. A bloke with a chainsaw to chop down all the dead trees around my place and turn them into firewood, another one with a slasher to cut the long grass, another couple to put up some fences…though considering all the things they’ve done to us over the years, really they should do it for free. And if I was still hot, they would!

Here’s this month’s Epic Sci-Fi and Fantasy promo, all free. And I totally recommend both The End of Men (in which a virus wipes out 95% of people with penises) and Men of Earth (in which a bunch of slightly nutty women create the perfect men with which to subvert the patriarchy).

Photo by Abby Savage on Unsplash


  1. Wait … did you say something?

    Fortunately for me, my wife has her sister and mother and one of our sons and her BFF, all of whom she can talk incessantly with about the events of her day. But still, when we sit down to dinner, it goes. On. And on. And on. And I try. I really try. But … jeez!!

  2. “Men are (mostly, still) the government.”
    “‘Oh not like that – you’ll break it!’ I know men who are lovely right down to the last bite, and women I’d choke on.”
    You remind me of Dorothy Parker. Which is the highest compliment I could give to anyone.

    I met the female govenor of NSW. I know what you mean.

  3. It is all pheromones. You have probably read the book Sentient, which discusses the attraction between sexes. In the deep South of the US, in the days past, at the cotillion, women used to put apple slices under their armpits and hand them to their beau to eat; if the beau was meant for them, he would happily take a bite of the apple.

  4. Oh, I suspect you could mange to get it done for free should the mood move you…

    You may be the only person I know who manages to smuggle a slyly obscure, unacknowledged, directly on-point “Life of Brian” reference into the middle of a dead-on accurate evaluation of thingspottle inventors and respect your readers enough to expect them to just get it.

    Damn, you’re good. And I’m laughing.

    PS: Haven’t been ignoring you lately — been ignoring the entire internet this month trying to get a multi-decade career wrapped up for retirement. Lotta little connections there that had to be disconnected and/or re-routed. But I’ve accomplished it, and can now undertake my true calling of Avuncular Old Fart.

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